OGDEN — When he didn’t show up for his lunch that day in early December, alarm bells went off for Ginger Myers, recreation supervisor at the Golden Hours Senior Center.
“He drove here every day, kind of a bright spot for us,” Myers said. “We got to know each other.”
Byron Garner, who helps the central Ogden senior center with its daily drive-up lunch distribution program for seniors, remembers it well. Myers was worried, puzzled at the unexpected absence.
“He was always the first one here. He would sit here in his little Chevy,” Garner said Thursday, helping attend to that day’s crowd at the city-owned facility. “But that Monday, he wasn’t here.”
Ultimately, Myers called the man’s home to get to the bottom of things, getting no answer, and then reached the emergency contact the senior center had on file, an out-of-state son. The son, in turn, called someone to check on the elderly man and it turns out Myers’ intuition was correct — the man was incapacitated after a fall, lying on the floor in his home. He had been that way several days, without food or drink, and might have died had Myers not stepped in.
The man survived — “a miracle,” Myers said — and Mayor Mike Caldwell and the Ogden City Council formally honored Myers at the council meeting on Monday, thanking her for her quick thinking. Councilperson Doug Stephens described the happening as a positive turn in a seeming sea of never-ending bad news.
“I’m not surprised at the outcome,” said Councilperson Ben Nadolski, a neighbor of Myers. “I know Ginger to have an amazing heart. When you have a heart like hers, when you follow that heart, good things happen.”
The recognition certificate prepared by the city says the man, who officials didn’t publicly identify, is on the mend. “Thanks to a couple of caring phone calls from Ginger, he is now doing well and recovering. His son refers to Ginger as his father’s guardian angel,” it reads.
But the lessons from the incident go further. In the time of COVID-19, when people are self-isolating to guard against contracting the virus, Councilperson Marcia White said Myers’ experience serves as a call to watch out for one another. Because of COVID-19, the senior center has scaled back its offerings and only offers takeaway lunches instead of the pre-pandemic norm, hot meals served inside the facility.
“I think it reminds us, at least reminds me — we need to be good neighbors,” White said.
For Myers, meantime, the decision to make the calls, to follow-up, just came from the gut. At the same time, that’s the sort of caring Golden Hours aims to demonstrate to the seniors who use the facility. Myers has traded messages with the man, in a rehabilitation facility she can’t visit due to COVID-19 guidelines, and he’s hoping to return to Golden Hours.
“Really, that’s what the center does. We’re here for our members. Relationships are formed. We treat our members as family,” Myers said
But like White, Myers also sounded a broader message of watching out for others, particularly the elderly. “Seniors in your life — just let them know you care, you’re there for them,” she said.